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The Expendables 3

Like a cinematic Energiser Bunny, Sylvester Stallone keeps on going.  Becoming an unstoppable action force with the ‘Rocky’ and ‘Rambo’ franchises, his longevity is to be admired.  Whilst he has made his fair of clunkers and isn’t the world’s greatest actor, his lazy charm has made even the biggest disasters vaguely watchable.  ‘The Expendables 3’ is the latest to utilise his brawny talents.  As silly as many of his movies, it’s macho escapist fantasy of the highest order sure to please his enduringly dedicated fans.

 

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) leads a group of mercenaries for hire.  Their current mission is to free one of their former comrades Dr. Death (Wesley Snipes).  With his help they are able to confront a deadly enemy in the form of Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson).  Bearing a savage grudge against Ross, Stonebanks aims to destroy the Expendables.  Gathering together his beefcake army, Ross ensures they are equipped with an armada of weapons to take on the fight of their lives.

 

The questions one asks when watching ‘The Expendables 3’ is: ‘does it entertain?’ and ‘is the action spectacular?’  That’s all anyone needs ask as it isn’t an acting or directing piece.  It answers those questions with a generally resounding yes despite it feeling less energetic than previous instalments.  Blame could be laid on a predictable script and Patrick Hughes’ ponderous direction. It’s a bloated outing with the 2 hr plus run-time sapping any much needed focus.

 

To its credit ‘The Expendables 3’ doesn’t skimp on its action scenes.  There are plenty of explosions and gun-fights to satisfy the most bloody-thirsty of viewers.  It’s all done with tongue firmly in cheek and is aided by the cast’s genuine chemistry.  Whilst the over-load of characters means we only receive sketchy portraits, it is fun seeing the likes of Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger take another trip around the action road.

 

‘The Expendables 3’ is reasonably entertaining although the series is showing signs of creative lethargy.  The proposed 4th outing needs to be better if it is to endure.  Despite any short-comings Stallone’s lumbering heroism will always be embraced by his loyal fan-base.

 

Rating out of 10:  6 

Snowpiercer

Some of the best science fiction films and TV shows have used current events to tell their tales.  Within futuristic trappings, stories of class-systems, war and vengeance have captivated.  Based on a French graphic novel ‘Snowpiercer’ is an effective attention-grabber.  Thoughtful, action-packed and consistently imaginative, it’s a solid sci-fi experience.  Genre fans should receive a kick from its spectacle as it foretells a not too unthinkable future.

 

When a global-warming experiment nearly wipes out all life on earth, its few remaining inhabitants struggle to survive.  Living in a new ice-age, they travel on a train called ‘Snowpiercer’. A class hierarchy still prevails with the wealthy riding the train’s front with the poor down the back.  Curtis (Chris Evans), with help from friends Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Gilliam (John Hurt), aims to break free of the unfair situation.  Battling a hoard of deadly guards as they make their way to the front, the trio refuse to be prevented from completing their quest.

 

Although suffering from an over-abundance of ideas and slow pacing, ‘Snowpiercer’ continually engages.  Much of its success lies with Bong Joon-ho’s creative direction.  Grasping the stories’ opportunities, he utilises its concept well.  As characters move towards their goal, the deadlier and more unpredictable the obstacles become.  Often resembling a multi-level computer game, each train carriage reveals a new set of challenges.  The emerging threats ensure ‘Snowpiercer’ never becomes dull whilst delivering its layered themes.

 

Amidst its amazingly staged action sequences the actors provide strong performances.  You wouldn’t think ‘Snowpiercer’ would be an actor’s piece but it is due to some clever writing.  Evans, Hurt and Tilda Swinton playing a rare villain role, all have a grand time in creating this strange world.  This is perhaps its most successful aspect – you truly immerse yourself into this environment.  The production design helps immeasurably with some scenes lingering in the memory.

 

It isn’t all perfect but when it hits the heights ‘Snowpiercer’ offers an entertaining experience. Its creative flourishes set it apart from other works as it makes you think while providing a futuristic eye-full of action.

 

Rating out of 10: 8